For an Arizona negligence claim to be successful, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached this duty; the breach of the duty caused an injury to the plaintiff; the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury and the plaintiff suffered damages.
Pure Comparative Negligence
In 1984, Arizona passed the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act (“UCATA”), ARS § 12-2501, which established a comparative fault system in which multiple tortfeasors are responsible for their own respective shares of the liability. Pure comparative negligence allows a plaintiff to recover even if his level of negligence is greater than a defendant’s level of negligence.
In general, comparative negligence permits a plaintiff to recover damages based on the percentage of the defendant’s fault. For example, if plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of $1,000,000 and court or jury finds the defendant to be 10% at fault, the plaintiff would be entitled to recover 10%, or $100,000 of their damages from the defendant.
The UCATA allows jointly liable defendants to seek contribution from other tortfeasors in the event one defendant paid more than their apportioned share.
ARS § 12-2506 establishes a comparative fault system, which makes each tortfeasor responsible for paying his or her percentage of fault. Therefore, each tortfeasor whose conduct caused the plaintiff’s injury is severally liable only for their percentage of the total damages.
ARS § 12-2506(D) provides three exceptions to Arizona’s several liability system in which joint and several liability will apply: 1) where the parties were acting in concert (entering into a conscious agreement to pursue a common plan or commit an intentional tort and actively taking part in that tort); 2) where one party was acting as an agent or servant of another party; and 3) where a party’s liability for the fault of another person arises out of a duty created by the federal employer’s liability act.
Compensatory damages are awarded by a Court to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
In Arizona, compensatory damages include an award for the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment, lost earnings and a potential decrease in future earning, loss of love, care, companionship, and enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. In Arizona, punitive damages are awarded if the plaintiff proved by clear and convincing evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that the defendant engaged in aggravated and outrageous conduct with an “evil mind.” Thompson v. Better-Built Aluminum Prod. Co., 171 Ariz. 550, 832 P.2d 203 (1992). An evil mind may be shown by evidence that the defendant “consciously pursued a course of conduct knowing that it created a substantial risk of significant harm to others.” Rawlings v. Apodaca, 151 Ariz. 149, 726 P.2d 565 (1986).
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Arizona. Should you have a question/concern specific to Arizona law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona.